I watch the theological posts of my Anglican friends, who run the gamut from Anglo-Pentecostal to Anglo-Calvinist to Anglo-Papalist, with much intrigue, and honestly with a little sadness, as they strive to prove to one and all that their version of Anglicanism is the true or "classical" one. Alas, the vexing question of Anglican identity.
My own take at this juncture in my Anglican studies is somewhat different. On the one hand, as a Westerner soteriologically speaking I stand squarely in the Augustinian school, which means at the bare minimum that I believe no one becomes a Christian unless God makes him one. On the other hand, I am increasingly of the mind that the Reformation, including the English Reformation, has empirically shown itself to be a failed experiment, its laudable Augustinian underpinnings notwithstanding. All Anglicans, from the Cranmerians to the Catholics, have argued that the Reformed Church of England and her progeny is nothing less than the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith, restored in England by the pious efforts of Reformers, Kings and Parliaments. Ideally in these folks' thinking, "Catholic" and "Protestant" need not be opposed, especially since in Anglicanism, so the argument runs, the Reform was essentially Catholic.
However, those who stress the Protestant character of Anglicanism need to come to terms with the fact that the history of Protestantism is one that betrays one defection from historic Catholic faith after another, in both its "conservative" and liberal expressions. For me, this is the determinative and damning commentary on the Reformation.
When the Cranmerians and Carolinians alleged that the Church of England sought to be nothing more than the Church of the Fathers, did they really mean what they said? Do their modern successors mean what they say? I really wonder. Neo-Puritans (Presbyterians with prayer books), charismaniacs, egalitarians (WO), emergentists: what a hodge-podge of everything that is anything but historically and essentially Catholic.
Canon Arthur Middleton nails it, IMHO. And so my advice to my Anglo-Protestant friends is this: give up the old Anglican claim to catholicity. You may be altogether right in your ecclesiological and soteriological claims, but if so, give up that claim. Be the Protestants that you are, and Lord bless. Perhaps you will finally be able to manifest what the Reformers, and their progeny to date, have never been able to manifest.
As for me, I seek full incorporation into that "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" in which we say we believe when we recite the Creed, and I can only do so as an *English* Catholic, not a Roman one or an Orthodox one. I intend to follow the Lord's will, *whatever that may be*, now that I have separated from a Colorado parish and seek to enter into a North Carolinian one, but I'm thinking that the ramification of what I've said here means a return to the Anglican Continuum, which Continuum hopes some day to find a satisfactory ecclesial reconciliation with Rome or Orthodoxy (likely the latter). We shall see about that. Regardless, my Anglicanism can only be that of a Catholic kind, in keeping with the stated sentiments of Cranmerians and Carolines and Tractarians, however much they have missed the mark in that regard.
Happily, I have more options here in WNC than I did in Denver, as far as the Continuum is concerned.